Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary
Afi Mountain, Nigeria
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The Eastern Kentucky Coalfield is part of the Central Appalachian bituminous coalfield, including all or parts of 30 Kentucky counties and adjoining areas in Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. It covers an area from the Allegheny Mountains in the east across the Cumberland Plateau to the Pottsville Escarpment in the west. The region is known for its coal mining; most family farms in the region have disappeared since the introduction of surface mining in the 1940s and 1950s.
The Daniel Boone National Forest is located on rough but beautiful terrain along and east of the Pottsville Escarpment. There are many natural arches and sandstone cliffs that are excellent for rock climbing and rappeling. The Red River Gorge, part of the National Forest, is known worldwide in rock climbing circles.
The Sheltowee Trace Trail runs 420–430 km north and south through the region.
During the American Civil War most of this region leaned toward the Union due to its makeup at the time of mostly small farmers, but more than 2,000 men from this area formed the 5th. Kentucky Vol. Inf., known as the Army of Eastern Kentucky, under Gen. Humphrey Marshall, C.S.A. During the Great Depression, New Deal programs and the organizing of the United Mine Workers of America made many of the eastern counties Democratic.
Eastern Kentucky has a rich musical heritage. A large number of nationally acclaimed country music singers and musicians are from the area. These include: Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley, Patty Loveless, Dwight Yoakam, Tom T. Hall, Billy Ray Cyrus, Jean Ritchie, and George S. Davis.
The Eastern Kentucky Coalfield covers 31 counties with a combined land area of 13,370 sq mi (34,628 km²), or about 33.1 percent of the state's land area. Its 2000 census population was 734,194 inhabitants, or about 18.2 percent of the state's population. The largest city, Ashland, has a population of 21,981. Other cities of significance in the region include Pikeville, Corbin, and Middlesboro. The state's highest point, Black Mountain, is located in the southeastern part of the region in Harlan County.
The following list consists of eastern Kentucky cities with populations over 4,000 (as of 2010 U.S. Census):
The region's economy is centered around the vast amount of natural resources available, which includes coal, timber, natural gas, and oil. Recently, tourism has became a leading industry in the region, due to the region's unique cultural history and the creation of state parks.
The Appalachian Regional Commission was formed in 1965 to aide economic development in the Appalachian region, which was lagging far behind the rest of the nation on most economic indicators. The Appalachian region currently defined by the Commission includes 420 counties in 13 states, including all counties in Kentucky's Eastern Coalfield. The Commission gives each county one of five possible economic designations—distressed, at-risk, transitional, competitive, or attainment—with "distressed" counties being the most economically endangered and "attainment" counties being the most economically prosperous. These designations are based primarily on three indicators—three-year average unemployment rate, market income per capita, and poverty rate.
From 2008-2010, "Appalachian" Kentucky—which includes all of the Eastern Coalfield and several counties in South Central Kentucky and a few in the eastern part of the Bluegrass region—had a three-year average unemployment rate of 10.2%, compared with 9.3% statewide and 8.2% nationwide. In 2009, Appalachian Kentucky had a per capita market income of $16,768, compared with $24,541 statewide and $32,691 nationwide. From 2006-2010, Appalachian Kentucky had an average poverty rate of 24.4%—the highest of any of the ARC regions—, compared to 17.7% statewide and 13.8% nationwide. Twenty-five Eastern Mountain Coal Field counties—Bell, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliot, Floyd, Harlan, Jackson, Knott, Knox, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Magoffin, Martin, McCreary, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Powell, Rowan, Whitley, and Wolfe—were designated "distressed," while four—Johnson, Laurel, Montgomery, and Pike—were designated "at-risk." Two Eastern Coalfield counties were designated "transitional"—Boyd and Greenup. No counties in the Eastern Coalfields region were given the "attainment" designation or were designated "competitive."
The following table illustrates the economic status of each county.
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